1.2 Risk factors

1.2 Risk factors

The risk factors for developing melanoma include:

  • a personal history of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer
  • a family history of melanoma
  • increased numbers of nevi on a total body count (> 100 of more than 2 mm)
  • increased numbers of dysplastic naevi – people with more than 5 dysplastic nevi have a 10 times greater chance of developing melanoma than people who have no dysplastic nevi (NCI 2018)
  • solarium use
  • a fair complexion (including fair skin with poor tanning ability, light or red-coloured hair and blue or green eyes)
  • a history of blistering sunburn
  • multiple solar keratoses (Cancer Australia 2017a)
  • high levels of intermittent sun exposure (e.g. during outdoor recreation or sunny holidays)
  • immune suppression and/or transplant recipients
  • increasing age.

Patients with an increased risk to develop melanoma should receive education from a general practitioner or dermatologist about skin self-examination and sun protection advice.

Patients with a high risk of developing melanoma may need:

  • a total skin check every six to 12 months by a dermatologist or general practitioner with skills in dermoscopy
  • surveillance photography (for people with multiple naevi)
  • sequential dermoscopic imaging
  • referral to a dermatologist or cancer geneticist for people with a family history of cancer in two first-degree relatives.